Tuesday, December 4, 2018

This Christmas beware Julinissers and Kallikantzartoi

The famous elves which help Santa make and deliver the toys are the good elves but there are also some back fellows too. In Denmark, you need to take care to avoid the Julnissers at Christmas. During the rest of the year they live outside but during the winter festivities they sneak indoors to cause mayhem. Whilst Julinissers wear woollen clothes with red caps, and long red stockings and wooden clogs, they are not easy to spot. Sometimes only the family cat can see them.

At Christmas the Julnissers become practical jokers and do mischievous things like hide shoes, or blow out candles. To avoid their attentions, it is important to leave out a bowl of rice pudding and if they are kept happy, then the children of the house find the occasional treat or lost coin.

In Greece there are wicked elves called Kallikantzaroi. In order to keep them from causing trouble in the house a large log called a skakantzalos was burnt. This is the traditional Yule log. Sometimes Greeks burnt old shoes in the hope the smell would keep the wicked elves away. Greek children born on Christmas Eve or Christmas day were feared to be Kallikantzaroi, and as a precaution all newborns during the Christmas festival were bound in braids of garlic or straw and had their toenails singed .

It is a well held belief human smells ward-off evil attention and this may be one reason why our ancestors were reluctant to adopt washing more than once per year.

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